Executors rights over property


I’m looking for some other peoples opinions if possible.

I have a property where a share was left on life interest, the life tenant owned the other share and has now died.

There is one surviving trustee of the Trust and two executors of the Will.

Who is entitled to hold the keys to the property (assuming there is only one set)?

Many thanks

Lyndzey Smissen
Paytons Solicitors LLP

Purely as a practical precaution there should probably be at least 2 sets of keys, or possibly change the locks and get new ones as there could be other sets held by unknown parties.
Does the death of the life-tenant end the trust or are there remaindermen? If so then the trustees still have a legal interest on behalf of the remaining beneficiaries and should have keys in addition to the Executors. If not and the trust has now ended then only the Executors would require keys. Who considers themselves responsible for continuing to insure the property and its contents until it is either sold or re-inhabited under the terms of the Trust/Will? That may also influence any decision about who holds keys.

Thank you Maxine.

There are remaindermen who were demanding we take full control of the property which I was not sure I was comfortable with as the Lay Executor is insuring and dealing with the contents. I will arrange for a second set of keys to be cut so that the Trustees can also maintain access.

Lyndzey Smissen

I agree with Maxine on the question of keys, however, regardless of whether the trust continues, or terminates, on the death of the life tenant (unless the Settled Land Act 1925 applies) the executor is only interested in what happens to the contents – i.e. the life tenant’s assets.

The trustees are responsible for the property and, generally, with the expenses thereof from the death of the life tenant. Until the contents are cleared, the trustees and executors will need to liaise, and the executors will be responsible for any contents insurance and, perhaps, council tax and water services charges to the extent that the liability relates to the fact that the property remains furnished (or sufficiently furnished to attract liability).

The fact that the life interest has terminated, does not terminate the trustee’s responsibilities and, as identified above, the executor has no interest in the property. Whilst it is said that if there is a sole remainderman absolutely entitled, the trust will terminate upon the death of the life tenant, in reality I do not believe this has any significant affect upon the trustee’s responsibilities (and liabilities).

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals